Dec 26, 1862
Of the hundreds of Dakota people who surrendered or were captured during the U.S.-Dakota War, 303 men are tried in a military court and convicted of rape and murder. At the urging of missionary Henry Whipple, President Abraham Lincoln reviews the convictions and commutes the sentences of 264 prisoners. Lincoln then signs the order condemning the remaining men to death by hanging. One prisoner is reprieved just before the sentencing is carried out. The remaining 38 men are hanged at Mankato on December 26, 1862—the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Wow! That’s a sad title we own: “Minnesota, home of the largest mass execution in U.S. history.” Thank you for the merciful actions of Henry Whipple and President Lincoln. As a human being, I admit that I have the potential for hate, rape, and murder in my heart. All have offended Your perfection, yet we feel comforted by ranking our offense as lesser than our neighbor’s.
Will You forgive these hanged ones like You’ve forgiven all humanity? Will You restore them? Their generations? Their dwellings? Their lands? Their belief in the law and justice? Will You restore those who acted treacherously to foment this war: politicians, chiefs, business leaders, soldiers of the U.S. army or of the Dakota Nation, men, women, and children?
Will You forgive them for taking the bait of the enemy; the first offense? Will You forgive their offenders their profound lack of judgment by first executing their will to execute?Will You bring us all into chesed with You and as Minnesotans?
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out!